Discussion paper

DP10024 Culture: Persistence and Evolution

This paper presents evidence on the speed of evolution (or lack thereof) of a wide range of values and beliefs of different generations of European immigrants to the US. The main result is that persistence differs greatly across cultural attitudes. Some, for instance deep personal religious values, some family and moral values, and political orientation converge very slowly to the prevailing US norm. Other, such as attitudes toward cooperation, redistribution, effort, children's independence, premarital sex, and even the frequency of religious practice or the intensity of association with one's religion, converge rather quickly. The results obtained studying higher generation immigrants differ greatly from those found when the analysis is limited to the second generation, as typically done in the literature, and they imply a lesser degree of persistence than previously thought. Finally, we show that persistence is ?culture specific" in the sense that the country from which one's ancestors came matters for the pattern of generational convergence.


Giavazzi, F, F Schiantarelli and I Petkov (2014), ‘DP10024 Culture: Persistence and Evolution‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 10024. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp10024